Bukidnon media tackle challenges in reporting climate change


MALAYBALAY CITY (Bukidnon News/ 06 May)  – Challenges in covering climate change and disasters were highlighted as the local press celebrated the World Press Freedom Day.

In a media conference held Sunday, Del Mark Valendez, a broadcaster from DXCR Hope Radio, said his major challenge is translating weather terminologies.

He said that though the weather bureau Pagasa post advisories in Cebuano, the terms were still set in English.

“How are going to translate, for example, the “tail-end of the cold front” or “Inter-tropical Convergence Zone?” he asked.

Other journalists cited problems in localizing global climate issues, need for capacity building in media outlets, lack of coverage fund for environmental issues and difficulty in accessing well-informed sources.

Conference guest Red Batario, executive director of the Center for Community Journalism and Development (CCJD), said that reporting climate change and the environment in general is now even more challenging.

He said after the signing of the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 (RA 10121), the focus is shifted from relief and response to preparedness and mitigation.

The problem, he said, is that the media still tend to report on disaster events not on climate change processes.

“Oftentimes, we [don’t report] the vulnerable communities and causes of these vulnerabilities,” he said, adding that these groups include the marginalized communities, the IPs, the elderly, women and children.

He also said they shouldn’t be treated as mere victims but as local capacities that can be tapped. “During Yolanda, the media covered only those who waited for external aid but rarely those who are already picking up the pieces.”

He also said that popularizing technology jargon can also help through converting them from techno-speak to “street-speak.”

Batario, who had worked as a journalist for 30 years prior to his work at the CCJD, is also the Southeast Asia coordinator for the International News Safety Institute.

CCJD, is the lead convenor of the DRRNet Philippines, one of the four civil society representatives in the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council.

The World Press Freedom Day is celebrated every May 3 as proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993. This year’s theme is “Media Freedom for a Better Future: Shaping the Post-2015 Agenda.”

Dubbed “Media Conference on Reporting Climate Change and Disasters,” the local media event had gathered journalists from Malaybalay and Valencia.

The conference was organized by the Bukidnon Press Club, local chapters of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) and National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP), and Philippine Information Agency- Bukidnon. It was initiated by BukidnonNews.Net (April Rose Torion)